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The Australian Government has introduced a data matching system in an attempt to aid in the recovery of $4 billion dollars in Centrelink over-payments.
The system, developed in conjunction with the Australian Taxation Office ("ATO"), aims to identify potential welfare cheats and over-payment recipients by matching data already held by the ATO with other data such as address matching where, for example, a 2 bedroom property is housing 5 people as well as data matching contact numbers, email addresses and other information.
CEO of Australian Council of Social Services, Cassandra Goldie, has criticised the increase in debt recovery action saying, "It's a terrible time of the year and people are feeling like they are going to jail [sic] when in most, an overwhelming majority of cases, this is about people who have struggled to keep Centrelink up-to-date with the changed income circumstances. People are receiving very small amounts of money anyway to pay for food, to cover bills, to keep a roof over their heads and of course, as we go into Christmas, into the festive season, this is the time of severe financial distress for families and individuals".
To date, since the introduction of the new data matching system in August 2016, debt notices totaling almost $650 million have been issued